Nepal's aging population in dire need of social Welfare Program

Nepals aging population in dire need of social Welfare Program

In Nepal elderly population has always been considered passive recipients of support. Old people are considered as burdens on families. Ageing is considered a problem in our society.

Healthy aging is not a contradictory term but in Nepal, where the elderly have to be dependent on other family members, financially and physically, their health and well-being their health takes a backseat in front of other urgent expenses like food, shelter and well being of more productive family members.

Dependence on family and lack of physical mobility adds to the deteriorating social status of the elderly. In Nepal, the older population is increasing, both in terms of absolute numbers and as a proportion of the total population, i.e. there were 1.6 million elderly inhabitants, which constitute 7.46% of the total population in 2001, which is estimated to be double by 2017.

A recent study designed to assess the social and health situation of elderly found that majority of them, above 70 years of age do not get the consistent government allowance. It leads to them being dependent on their families for personal expenses, their accessibility toward the source and service always being limited, which leads to low health and social status.

(This is a descriptive/cross-sectional study and includes both qualitative as well as quantitative data. Three districts of far-western development region were selected randomly, one each from terai, hilly and mountainous area.)

A total of 325 subjects were interviewed for this study. For about 66% of the respondents, their personal expenses is being supported by their family, whereas 27% of them said to be self capable in managing their finances themselves.

About 57% of the respondents don't have separate room in their home. They share their room with some other family member. Only 45% of the respondents are satisfied with the status of their living home. Agriculture is the main source of family income for 67% of the respondents. About 41% of the respondent's personal income is dependent on agriculture and for 44% of the respondents, there was no source of income at all.

It is also found that only about 17% of respondents are having regular health checkups, which is considerably low. It may due to dependency of the respondents on their family members for managing cost of the health expenses that they need for regular medical checkup.

Study finding shows that 11% of the respondents are just confined to the bed due to the severity of problem. About 9% of them expressed that they are unable to wash, bath and chang their cloths.

Anxiety and depression have been commonly seen among the elderly people due to physical and hormonal changes and also due to their social and family relations. Study results shows that about 31% of the respondents have been extremely anxious and depressed.

They are concerned for their health, diminished social status and insecurities about their importance among other people. Change in socio-economic status has adversely affected the aging population's way of life, after retirement.

In developing countries like Nepal, it is necessary to develop senior citizen welfare program in such a way so that they can maintain their social and health status and develop the feeling of "senior" and not "old and absolute"

Ramesh Pokhrel

Ramesh Pokhrel

Nepal & India base Freelance journalist .

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